Review: "Alma Baya" Gives New Meaning(s) to Pod People
Written and directed by Edward Einhorn
Presented by Untitled Theater Company No. 61 at A.R.T./New York Theatres
502 W. 53rd Street (at 10th Ave), Manhattan, NYC
In-person: August 13 - 28, 2021 (masks and proof of vaccination required)
Streaming on-demand: August 18 - September 19, 2021
|Alma Baya Cast B - JaneAnne Halter, Maggie Cino, Nina Mann. Photo credit: Arthur Cornelius|
Even before she emerges, naked, from the enclosed space of the airlock as if in a (re)birth, the Stranger's arrival, as she correctly observes later, has irreversibly changed everything for Alma and Baya, no matter what happens afterwards. Her presence proceeds to pick at the underpinnings of much of what Alma and Baya believe about their relationship to one another and to the world (worlds, if we include the Earth)—even as the only assurance that we have that the Stranger is telling the (entire) truth is her own. Little from her accounts of her life in her own pod aligns with that of Alma and Baya, including the instructional manuals that they treat as the equivalent of sacred texts (in a nice touch, we also see that they have incorporated small ritualized gestures into their routine).
|Alma Baya Cast B - Maggie Cino, Nina Mann, JaneAnne Halter. Photo credit: Arthur Cornelius|
|Alma Baya Cast B - Nina Mann & Maggie Cino. Photo credit: Arthur Cornelius|
-John R. Ziegler and Leah Richards
* As a COVID precaution, the play is double cast. The actors in the in-person performance discussed here are designated Cast B, while Cast A features Anne Marie Yoo as Alma, Sheleah Harris as Baya, and Rivera Reese as the Stranger. For the full repertory schedule see the show's website.